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Naomi Klein’s New Book and the Poison of Capitalism

In this blog, I translated the English article (below) on Naomi Klein’s new book into Japanese and added my thoughts.

ナオミ・クラインの新刊書。資本主義の害毒

日本が直面する貧困、格差、生活保護の切捨て、生活の質、幸福度の測定、環境、エネルギー問題、異常気象、規制緩和、遺伝子組み換え食品、地産地消、ブラック企業、国際貿易、TPP秘密交渉、戦争、(非)民主主義などの諸問題をよくよく考えると、資本主義とグローバリゼーションという大きな問題に行きあたるように思う。

これらの問題を考えぬかずに、からまりつながる複雑なシステムの全体像をさぐり、解決策をデザインしていくことはむずかしい。ややこしいが、お金がつくられるしくみもわからないと、いけない(ビデオを参考にしてください)。

資本主義やグローバリゼーションの泰斗(頭をよぎるのは宇沢弘文 、ギー・スタンディング)にはスーパースター(学者やジャーナリストのレベルで)も多いが、私が今、注目しているのは、サスキア・サッセンとナオミ・クラインのふたりだ。

今月9月にクラインの新刊書「This Changes Everything <資本主義>対<気候変動>」が発売したこともあり、彼女の短いインタビュー記事を訳してみた(ブログ後半。左派への5つの大事な教訓。ナオミ·クラインの新刊から)。読みやすくするための工夫をしたが、誤訳や改良する点があれば、指摘していただきたい。

。。。下につづく

Wealth and Health

Two weeks ago, I received a letter from the State advising me to avail of the free testing for colorectal cancer. It says "It has already been 2 years and is time to do this." All I've to do is bring this letter to my generalist who'll organise it at the expense of the French Government. Though the positive results are between 2-3%, it's fairly important to do it because colorectal cancer develops in the colon, rectum and intestine from an abnormal growth of cells that can spread to other parts of the body. The common signs of this cancer are: change in bowel habits, nauseas, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, weight loss, weakness and anemia.

As such, I take this preventive measure seriously and feel lucky to be in a country where health, social and welfare services are accessible to its population. The government is wise because "prevention is better than cure." Treating an illness is more expensive, takes more time and is more emotionally draining. So, all governments should do this, but why don’t they? These preventive measures cost and, not really the priority, especially of those who are struggling to feed their people. Hence, it’s not surprising that, generally, wealthy nations have healthy people. However, there is also the question of politics and policies.

According to World Health Organisation's (WHO) data, the country with the highest government spending per person per year on health is Luxembourg (US$ 6,906/ Euros 5,441.60); country with lowest government spending per person per year on health is Myanmar (US$ 2/ Euros 1.60); country with highest annual out-of-pocket household spending on health is Switzerland (US$ 2,412/ Euros 1,900.73); and country with lowest annual out-of-pocket household spending on health Kiribati (US$ 0.2/ Euros 0.158).

Going back to work after a holiday

I am not a workaholic but love my job and one of the lucky ones who leave home with a smile then come back with a bigger smile. My students, who are mainly bank employees and whose interests range from football, food and wine to spirituality, have a good sense of humour. Nevertheless, getting back after a holiday is quiet a challenge. There are phone calls to return, paper work, backlog of emails and meetings. (I came back from Barcelona late last night and it is such a good idea to have one day off to recover physically before heading back to the class/training room).

Therefore, I have decided to plan how to handle this "back-to-work after the vacation" challenge. Firstly, since there will be no more hop on/hop off tours in Prague and Bratislava, tennis training at Cap d'Agde (France), Flamenco evenings (Spain), etc., I will just relax and enjoy the quietness. I will resume my Thursday Zumba and thrice/week visits to the gym.

Since I won't be able to catch up with everything in one day, I will prioritise my tasks appropriately and delegate, not only at work but at home. I'll definitely avoid the mourning period by seeing friends, going to the cinema and trying new recipes. I'll also put an ad for an hour of a friendly tennis game with a female beginner-player (like me).

Summer holiday (UK)/vacation (US)

I was nearly finished writing an article entitled "Not on holiday." After lines and lines of experiences of men, women and students doing summer jobs to put food on the table, pay for driving lessons, save for university studies, etc.., I decided not to go ahead with it. I realised that my thoughts were all over: from the economic crises, social evolution to work ethics, and these issues are boring as a summer reading. So, I'm going to talk about my tomorrow's visit to central Europe instead.

From Metz (the capital of Moselle in the north-east of France where I live) to Prague (the capital of the Czech Republic where I'll stay for 4 days) is 7 and a half hours by bus. From Prague to Bratislava (the capital of the Slovak Republic where I’ll be for 4 days), is 3 and a half hours by bus.

The Czech Republic is a member of the European Union (EU) but not of the Euro Zone (thus money exchange will be a bit inconvenient -- about 28 Koruna to 1 Euro); has a population of slightly over 10.5 million; has a multi-party democracy with the Prime Minister as head of its government; and has varied landscapes and temperatures. The warmest month is July and it’s sunny and festive in August.

Hearing on the TTIP held at the Chamber of Deputies in Luxembourg

Chamber of Deputies of Luxembourg - Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Picture taken by Ex13. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
(CC BY-SA 3.0)

This blog is a short (Japanese) summary of the hearing on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) which was held at the Chamber of Deputies in Luxembourg on July 11, 2014. I added some comments on the TTIP.

環大西洋貿易投資連携協定(TTIP=米欧版TPP)に関する公聴会

Chamber of Deputies of Luxembourg - Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

7月11日。ルクセンブルグ(代議院)で、環大西洋貿易投資連携協定に関する公聴会が開かれました。会合はテレビ中継され、録画はネットでも見れます。

環太平洋のTPPと環大西洋のTTIP(またの略をTAFTA)。日本人でヨーロッパ市民でもある私には、両方とも気がかりです。両協定には対アメリカという共通項もありますから、海千山千の欧州人たちがどう渡りあうのか非常に興味があります。

13日日曜日、会合録画を夫と一緒に見ました。中継を6時間も見るのは、結構きついだろうと思っていたのですが、休憩を挟み(午後2時~9時過ぎまで)見入ってしまいました。ディベートは、思いのほかおもしろかった! 参加者全員が用意周到で、時には声をあらげながら興味深い論戦を展開しています。

欠かせないのが。正月にはモチ、商談/悪巧みには古だぬき。ルクセンブルグの鉄の女性、正義感に燃える市民団体の代表者等々。公聴会の内容をまとめましたので、日本の方たちにもぜひ参考にしていただきたい。

。。。下につづく

Transatlantic Trade, "the norm-making power of the global capital market," and Sassen

By now, many people probably have heard of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP; in French Le partenariat transatlantique de commerce et d'investissement) and its deregulation purpose. The TTIP is a proposed secret trade deal between the European Union and the United States. Our friends (accountant and functionary) told us something like this ― only two groups in Brussels work to block this deal, whereas more than 200 groups are hired to push for the agreement with a perspective of “new growth.” (Do not be fooled because of nice words such as “free trade” and “new growth.”) The former has the budget of 200 million Euros, while the latter get billions of Euros. They thus argue that the deal is not about a corporate lobbying, but a bribery to be precise. They are very concerned about the TTIP, but they also think that it would be very difficult to win European Commission approval because the trade decision should be agreed by 28 countries … and it takes a lot to bribe.

Sports and Societies

France has just won 2-0 against Nigeria (It’s 11:00PM, 30/06/14, here): there are horns blowing, people laughing and yelling, and motorists brandishing French flags. We're in the middle of the FIFA World Cup 2014, and I can't help questioning the influence of sports on our society.

Likewise, cultures and values affect how and what sports are played by who, where and when. Sports have been in our lives as entertainment and leisure, as part of a political strategy, as an economic activity, as cultural means aimed at establishing relationships, and to show power and strength. In the middle ages, sport was used to settle disputes, punish, revenge and attract attention of women (e.g. jousting with swords, daggers and lances).

These days, football (Europe)/soccer (Australia & USA) is used as a platform to assert one’s national identity with flag bearing, singing of national anthem and wearing emblems before, during and after the games. In developed, developing and underdeveloped nations, football has faced new challenges due to globalisation, commercialisation and mediatisation which have both positive and negative outcomes.

In Belgium, football is viewed as a cementing force between the Flemings in the north (Netherlander: Flemish speaking) and the Walloons in the south and east (French speaking). Highly-paid footballers from humble socio-economic backgrounds have become multi-millionaires and influential.

On the other hand, the hosting of the World Cup costs billions which go a long way in a developing country (like Brazil). It's no surprise then that the 1994 Golden Ball winner Romario, who's now a member of the Brazilian Parliament, has been reported to have said that the money should have been spent better for health and education.

閣議決定は無効

官邸前には行けないが。昨夜、数時間立ちっぱなしで集団的自衛権行使の反対デモに参加した人のからだの節々の痛み、筋肉の疲れ、声がれ、くやしさや深いかなしみを感じる。いくつか、考えたことを書き留めたい。

1)「憲法泥棒だ」

解釈改憲による集団的自衛権の行使容認は「憲法泥棒だ」というのは、小林節・慶応大名誉教授の名言だが。彼は次のようにも断言している。「解釈の変更なんて、そんなきれい事じゃないんですね。解釈に名を借りた憲法の破壊なんです」

今日、閣議決定に踏みきった泥棒首相は「おとなしく手をあげろ。俺の言うとおりにしろ。さもないと」と、はっきりと国民を脅かし、ホールド・アップ状態にしたと認識すべきだと思いますよ。(いつか、この悪党を捕まえなくては)

。。。下につづく

Concerning two images of Abe's political methods: dirty tricks and war horses

Stolen Bride blinkers - Courtesy: Wikipedia.org

Picture by Chabata_k (Japan). Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license

The political methods adopted by Abe Shinzo and his LDP make me think of two images. One is a sort of dirty magic where they trick the Japanese people into a horrible life situation (e.g., poverty, without much livelihood protection, more and more taxes or burdens for the ordinary people, neoliberal pro-corporate policies, the TPP, strengthening the existing secrecy regime, the Japanese version of NSC, tons of US bases, collective self-defense, etc). This reminds me of the second image: war horses. Reasonably, horses must wear blinders if they are taken to a war, otherwise they may sense and question if there is something wrong. If we see “war horses” as Japanese people, the new secrecy law serves as a “blinder” so that people would not know that a war may be approaching and people would not ask if there is no reason to go to a war (e.g., tanaage agreement Senkaku).

Since some foreign newspapers use the relevant terms in their articles, I guess I am not the only person who thinks of these images.

(For example, “his reinterpretation sleight of hand”)

戦場へ、馬は目隠しをして連れていかれ

Stolen Bride blinkers - Courtesy: Wikipedia.org

アマルティア・センが、「私はインド人である。だからどの国に行っても長い順番待ちの列に並び入国審査をうける。それが苦労して得た貴重な宝であり、だからこそインサイダーとしてわが国を批判できる」いう旨の発言をしていました。私も大いに共感できます。私も今のところ、「ただひたすら」日本人です。

最近、日本のニュースで、明るい話を聞きません。

原発被害、生活保護の切捨て。貧困。消費税率の引き上げ、他方で法人税減税を強行?残業代ゼロ?医療費・介護費負担・75才まで年金支給の引き上げ?TPP秘密交渉、国家戦略特区、マイナンバー、国家安全保障会議(日本版NSC)、一票の格差の増大、沖縄の米軍基地、京都のXバンドレーダー基地建設工事、秘密保護法、集団的自衛権問題、鈴木章浩都議らによる女性蔑視の口汚い野次、そして日本国民の究極の脅威である安倍政権。

さらには、焼身自殺未遂までして、集団的自衛権行使に反対する政治的メッセージを発信した男性。それに対する日本の報道機関のdésinformation(情報の遮断)。自主規制でしょうか。

。。。下につづく

To motivate, inspire and work smartly

This month, I have been coming home later than usual due to extra hours spent helping my students prepare for their international tests (IELTS – International English Language Testing System, TOEFL – Test of English as a Foreign Language, CAE – Cambridge Advanced English and BULATS- Business Language Testing Service). These tests are designed to assess the language ability of individuals to study or work in a country where English is the language of communication. Last year, world-wide, IELTS alone had over 2 million takers who wanted to study in universities in the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand and tertiary institutions in several European cities, such as Paris and Amsterdam.

My international test preparation students are highly motivated, and this is because they have a goal (i.e. to obtain the required grade for university admission). Their motivation shines in their attitudes and behaviours during our lessons and in the quality of their assignment.

I believe that motivation is a major key factor of success: the more you have it, the quicker you reach your target. My students are motivated by high grades and acceptance into higher education, which can lead to a successful career that has implications on their personal and social lives.

Not so long ago, I received a compliment from our Director of Studies with these statements: “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” (You can replace ‘teacher’ with parent or boss).

学ばない・学べない日本

あっそうか。ヨーロッパの人にとっては、火を見るよりも明らかなことなのだなあ、と納得した。 あまり政治的でない人も若い人も、ごく普通の欧州人たちは、安倍首相とヒトラーとをはっきり同一視しているのですね。彼ら二人の近さ・類似をごく明白なこととして見ていて、それを指摘され驚く日本人は「何をとぼけて」って感じでしょうか。

私は10年近く、ヨーロッパのいわゆる「尖閣諸島」で暮らしました。歴史上、何度も国名が変わったところです。国境の町で、5月をむかえるのは毎年興味深いものがあります。去年も書きましたが、フランスとベルギーにとっては5月8日は戦勝記念日です。フランスでは祝日で、同日、敗戦国のドイツとその占領下にあったルクセンブルグでは、もちろん祭日ではありません。

今は近隣国から集まった人たちが、欧州の仲間として一緒に働き未来を建設しているのですが。その日常は同じ日の出来事に対し多面的に歴史を再検証し、歴史の記憶が一致しているかどうかその整合性を確認していくグループ作業でもあります。

5月8日が近づき、ラジオ(フランス・アンフォ)でフランス人の老年女性が当時のライトモティーフ(leitmotif)、サビの部分をうたっているのを聞きました。ヒトラーはパリのラジオ局を占拠し、プロパガンダを流したのですが。脱出先のロンドンで亡命政府・自由フランスを樹立したシャルル・ド・ゴールは、ロンドンラジオ(BBC)を通じて、フランス国民に抵抗闘争を呼びかけたのです。

"Radio Paris ment, Radio Paris ment, Radio Paris est Allemand"

mentir (嘘をつく)のmentモンとAllemand (ドイツ)のmandモンが韻を踏んでいます。ドイツのラジオ放送は嘘だらけという、皮肉な曲調を紹介していました。約70年前の歌が、彼女の頭にはっきりと残っているのですね。

国境のつながった欧州では、それぞれが歴史から学び、悔い改めざるをえなかったわけです。敵を許し共存し尊重するようになっても、互いの国がしたことは決して忘れない。歴史上おきた出来事はもちろん重要なのですが、それ以上にそれらの出来事をどう認識し社会として記憶していくかがもっと重要だと欧州人は考えているようです。

。。。下につづく

Konjac or konnyaku

Konjac - Courtesy: Wikipedia.org

Konjac or konnyaku (in Japanese) for health benefits/use

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